The Wi-Fi radio category has grown steadily during the last two years, thanks to greater consumer awareness and the popularity of streaming music services like Pandora. Grace Digital Audio was one of the early entrants to this product category, and the Bravado (model number GDI-IRD4400M) represents a different direction for the company. The Bravado ditches the standard tabletop radio look, instead placing a pair of stereo speakers on top of the unit and giving the faceplate the feel of an old-school stereo component.
The rest of the unit will feel familiar to Grace Digital fans, as the radio supports streaming services like Pandora and Sirius, and has access to Reciva's large database of Internet radio stations. We were originally put off by the Bravado's $250 price tag, since that put it into direct competition with the excellent Logitech Squeezebox Boom, which offers more features and better sound. But Grace recently dropped the asking price to a more palatable $200, making it worth consideration over the other models in the company's line.
Most Wi-Fi radios have a fairly generic look, with a single speaker on the left and controls on the right. By contrast, the Grace Bravado looks more like a classic stereo component: it has a square look with sharp corners that makes it feel like it could be rack mounted (it can't).
There are six silver buttons on the front panel, and each button, serves two functions, depending on whether you're listening to Internet radio or streaming your own music. The large metal knob has a nice brushed metal feel and it's used to both control volume and navigate menus.
While the faceplate is made of plastic and has a glossy black look, the rest of the unit features a wooden cabinet, with a matte black finish. The build quality of our review sample was technically fine, but it doesn't quite have that high-end feel, like you'd expect from, say, a Tivoli radio. The stereo speakers are positioned on the top of the unit (difficult to see in the photo), behind a rectangular speaker grille.
Additional connectivity is a little sparse. There's an analog stereo output, for connecting the Bravado to a separate stereo system. Next to that is a headphone jack; we would have preferred if it was located on the front panel for easier access.
The included remote control is another welcome improvement over step-down Grace radios. The little silver clicker has more heft than a standard credit-card-style remote and the button layout is better than average, with a nicely separated volume rocker and directional pad. The mute buttons also has a prominent position in the upper right hand corner, when you want to quickly shut off the sound.